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Alan Dunlop's comments

  • Moxon studio tour: ‘Being client, architect and contractor on the project gave us a huge amount of freedom’

    Alan Dunlop's comment 17 January, 2020 9:28 am

    Beautiful work, clear drawings, well considered plan, clever details. Inspirational stuff. In Scotland too, gets better and better.

  • Roger Scruton dies of cancer, aged 75

    Alan Dunlop's comment 13 January, 2020 1:20 pm

    Scruton was a clever man, insightful, thoughtful and often inspirational- a true intellect and a rare thing. Although you may disagree with his views, his writing was a pleasure to read. Like others, Jordan Petersen, Douglas Murray, Lionel Shriver and Brendan O'Neill included he was maligned, usually by those unwilling or unable to read his work.

    I agreed with much of his thoughts on architecture, particularly his view on soullessness, a lack of sense of place and starchitecture.

  • Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge included in DUP manifesto

    Alan Dunlop's comment 4 December, 2019 7:06 am

    Bridgeit: Get it Done.

  • Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge included in DUP manifesto

    Alan Dunlop's comment 2 December, 2019 11:22 am

    Politics, ( dislike of Boris Johnson and DUP ) and economics ( ask two economists, get three answers) aside, the architectural and engineering question is: can it be done?

    The answer is yes.

  • Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge included in DUP manifesto

    Alan Dunlop's comment 2 December, 2019 10:22 am

    Yes, I agree Robert, the terrain is challenging. But if you have time, take a look at the video of the Norwegian Coastal Highway in this recent feature from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from just a few weeks back

    The crossing most challenging terrain in northern Europe. Then say it's not possible. A £35 billion investment in transport infrastructure in a country with a population of 5 million.

  • A bold addition: Hoskins Architects revamps Aberdeen City Art Gallery

    Alan Dunlop's comment 21 November, 2019 7:01 am

    Mmm.....I understand the point you're making Chris and I agree judging by the selected photograph above the staircase does appear rather stark and uncompromising. However, in reality, it did not strike me at all as being a risk. In fact, throughout the project, access for all and circulation has been very well considered and significantly improved. With high levels of natural light throughout.

  • Getting warmer: Collective Architecture upgrades Glasgow tower blocks

    Alan Dunlop's comment 9 November, 2019 8:13 am

    I think you'll find I said as much, Laura

    "Collective Architecture was named Architect of the Year in the 2018 AJ Architecture Awards, an accolade that was well deserved. The practice is demonstrably capable of impressive new-build work. However, what deserves particular recognition is its long-standing commitment to community engagement; its capacity to listen to and work with local people to improve their environment and lives."

  • Irish PM says Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge should be taken seriously

    Alan Dunlop's comment 28 October, 2019 11:25 am

    China is in the process of developing track changing trains, Robert to handle variable gauges. Coping with cross border variable rail gauges would be the least challenging aspect of this whole endeavour, I believe.

    I did an extensive interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last week. It's now published here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-26/boris-johnson-is-building-bridges-between-a-fracturing-uk/11630656

    If interested, there are also good links.

  • Irish PM says Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge should be taken seriously

    Alan Dunlop's comment 27 October, 2019 4:32 pm

    Clever dick.

  • Irish PM says Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge should be taken seriously

    Alan Dunlop's comment 27 October, 2019 4:22 pm

    A political distraction....really? Damn it! Well spotted, Number.

  • Irish PM says Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge should be taken seriously

    Alan Dunlop's comment 27 October, 2019 8:56 am

    Steady, Number ...steady. You've taken that too far.

  • Irish PM says Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge should be taken seriously

    Alan Dunlop's comment 25 October, 2019 8:50 am

    There are many countries Robert, that have variable gauges and still operate cross border systems. Spain and France, Portugal and Spain, Finland and Sweden, Finland and Russia, Russia, Mongolia and China, are a few. South America too.

    Number, must you always be a dick?

  • Grafton Architects wins Royal Gold Medal

    Alan Dunlop's comment 2 October, 2019 2:30 pm

    It might be of interest, or maybe not.

  • Grafton Architects wins Royal Gold Medal

    Alan Dunlop's comment 2 October, 2019 2:27 pm

    Grafton Architects, with are among a group of exceptional Irish architects of international acclaim. Thoughtful, poetic, sensitive to context and passionate .

    I was commissioned by The Irish Times to write about Irish architecture almost 20 years ago and compare it to Scotland.


    Other buildings of interest include those of Shane O'Toole, Paul Keogh, Grafton Architects and Shay Cleary Architects. Their projects are small-scale but well defined. What is most satisfying about their buildings is that they do not sit in isolation but each contributes towards the success of the other. The scale, material and detail, is consistent and restrained. The buildings are contextual and Irish."

    Many congratulations.

  • Boris Johnson asks for feasibility study into Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge

    Alan Dunlop's comment 14 September, 2019 7:37 am

    What's persuaded you then, a retired engineer still working in feet and inches with a obvious Johnson man crush? That'll do it. But not yet not convinced that a non conventional structure will not, not work? No kidding.

  • Boris Johnson asks for feasibility study into Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge

    Alan Dunlop's comment 13 September, 2019 1:42 pm

    I know, I know........just one damn thing after another.

  • New practice Fraser/Livingstone: ‘We want to avoid creating big, dumb structures’

    Alan Dunlop's comment 11 September, 2019 12:41 pm

    Sincere best wishes Malcolm and Robin, in all future endeavours.

  • Boris Johnson asks for feasibility study into Northern Ireland-to-Scotland bridge

    Alan Dunlop's comment 11 September, 2019 12:34 pm

    Another gauge eh, Kevan Shaw?........Blimey who'd have thought it. 20 months of work down the tubes.

    Laugh? Gordon Gibb. I nearly laid an egg As for it never being built, you could well be right. Like Kevan's startling revelation, that's taken me completely by surprise. A populist idea to buy votes, eh? Crumbs. I'll tell that now to the calls, messages, reporters and emails I've been answering all day.

  • Leaked emails reveal extraordinary row between Mac chiefs

    Alan Dunlop's comment 10 September, 2019 7:53 am

    Jim, my comments after the fire, were primarily on what should happen next and in trying to provoke a public debate on the future of the building, with a call to consider a competition for a new building and not to just replicate Mackintosh's original design which cannot be done.

    It was not to discover who was to blame.

    However, the revelations uncovered in the last few months, including the "row" between Tom Inns and Muriel Gray, and questions over his departure, but also the resignation of so many staff and now the the GSA finance director Alistair Milloy, with added questions over funding and insurances still to be fully answered I believe it is time for a full enquiry.

  • Amanda Levete reveals first images of 'radical' £42m Paisley Museum revamp

    Alan Dunlop's comment 30 August, 2019 5:18 pm

    I've no doubt that the scheme is a deserved winner, but as you seem to know a good deal about the project, what then is concept that has driven the red glazed drum?

    I'm genuinely interested particularly as the architect uses a similar red at the V+A and it seems to be splashed throughout their website; on graphics, headings, carpets, doors and furniture. Rather than a radical interpretation of the brief, It could be interpreted as corporate signposting and in the context of this setting, frankly, brusque.

  • Amanda Levete reveals first images of 'radical' £42m Paisley Museum revamp

    Alan Dunlop's comment 30 August, 2019 6:53 am

    What's that redical red glazed hall all about then?

  • AJ Student Prize 2019 nominees revealed

    Alan Dunlop's comment 25 July, 2019 12:42 pm

    "Keep calm and step away from the laptop" Louis Kahn

    Some interesting projects from clearly talented students. Good luck to those shortlisted. Great to see also one or two hand drawings amongst the 60 or so submissions.

  • Building study: Glasgow flats by Graeme Nicholls Architects

    Alan Dunlop's comment 18 July, 2019 12:35 pm

    Frankly I can think of many, many more depressing developments, where no consideration at all has been given to the context, nor thought of the design. Moreover, far from being one of the crop of colourless hairshirt architects, Nicholls is one of a number of very talented young architects now working in Scotland and we'd like to keep him here.

    Yes indeed, the black brick is subjective, I can tell you it looks much better in the flesh. The project has no doubt been value engineered to a centimetre of its life. Yet, the planning is clever and the amount of daylight getting into each flat is generous and well considered.

    " Glasgow is a city of wee men an big windows": Jack Coia and Nicholls is to be congratulated for that.

    As for the reference only to the city's great architects of the past, if you lift your head you'll see that other, more contemporary architects have also produced great city housing, Elder and Cannon, Page and Park, Henry McKeown, Ian Alexander are a few, there are more.

    I'm confident Nicholls will do the same.

  • Robin Lee Architecture designs 10 utility buildings for North West Cambridge

    Alan Dunlop's comment 4 July, 2019 8:00 am

    Extraordinary work. Design and Build too. Congratulations. Stirling contender.

  • Open City chief: ‘Extinction isn’t the endgame for architects – irrelevance is’

    Alan Dunlop's comment 25 June, 2019 9:08 am

    Trenchant piece, Rory.

  • AHMM reinterprets back-to-back housing in Greenwich Peninsula

    Alan Dunlop's comment 25 June, 2019 7:39 am

    Very interesting project and clever, tight plan, but "one of the key ways to deliver cost-effective and space-efficient housing"?

    Am I right in calculating that each of the three bed homes works out at 138m2 gross internal floor area? If so, it seems generous spatially.

    Currently working on similar cost effective and space efficient housing, classified as "Affordable" in Scotland with a maximum gross internal floor area of 113m2 ( set by RICS ) for a four bed home. 25m2 less?

  • Oliver Cooke on visualisations: Why we shunned CGIs for oil painting

    Alan Dunlop's comment 19 June, 2019 7:50 am

    The computer lies.

  • How we can change the culture of free design work

    Alan Dunlop's comment 29 April, 2019 8:07 am

    Number, there is a disconnection between what is being taught and what is happening now in the profession, I agree. The reality is that it is in the schools, in the main, that the most interesting and forward looking work is being undertaken in architecture, not in practice.

    I'm commenting as both a practitioner and teacher. With respect, I'm not sure of your background other than you appear to know little about teaching.

    As architects what we offer is our expertise in critical analysis, lateral thinking, expert critique, client engagement, place making, knowledge of history and research techniques. As Sean Griffiths writes "the most innovative and rigorous technical thinking" These are the most important elements that are being taught and remain at the centre of the best schools.

    As architects they are our expert skills, yet today in practice we give this expertise away for free.

  • How we can change the culture of free design work

    Alan Dunlop's comment 27 April, 2019 3:49 pm

    I usually don't engage with commentators who choose to be nameless.

    However, my graduates have all found jobs, a good number occupy senior positions in highly respected practices in the UK and abroad or are running their own offices. The reality is that it's the profession that needs a complete overhaul and must raise its game.

    Promoting critical engagement in schools and encouraging open enquiry, social responsibility and experimentation in architectural education above all else does not create a vacuum, in fact in my experience, it produces young architects of real value to society, not office fodder for a profession losing esteem and being driven to the bottom by PQQ's for projects that the majority have no hope of winning; speculative work, acceptance of ridiculous contractor and developer demands and low fees which result in low pay, reduced employment prospects and talented graduates working as interns.

    The profession must look to itself for reasons why architects are being marginalised, not the schools. As for competitions don't do it. People place little value on what they don't pay for.

  • How we can change the culture of free design work

    Alan Dunlop's comment 26 April, 2019 7:39 am

    Navel Gazing, really? Cheap shot in an otherwise well argued piece.

    The course of architectural education has changed. The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake was once encouraged. Today, critical engagement, open enquiry and allowing graduates the freedom to think is being driven out by the profession’s apparent need to create office ready employees.

    While it is important for students to learn basic office skills, the acquisition of administration and teaching project processes is the responsibility of the profession not the role of schools of architecture.

    It is important that practices retain strong links with education and forge connections with students, however in my experience Master of Architecture graduates are bright and capable and learn quickly, so should still be able to leave university confident that they can secure a long career in architecture.

    However, in order to respond to today's culture of low fees and low pay, there is pressure on schools, coming from the profession to make architecture graduates able to deliver professional skills right away and to ensure that more MArch teaching effort is diverted to administrate business, legal and client protocols.

    I believe that my role as a professor of architecture is not to help you find a job. Instead, it is to teach you what it is to be an architect.

    I have promoted free thinking and open enquiry and taught the importance of history, social responsibility and the importance of context and developed students as creative thinkers, who also have the expertise and knowledge required to make buildings of worth.

    This approach I also believe has produced many young architects of real value to the profession, many are now successfully holding senior positions in international practices.

  • ‘Tulip is an abomination’ says Gherkin client

    Alan Dunlop's comment 3 April, 2019 12:02 pm

    No, that's Dubai.

  • Moxon transforms Highland hotel with ‘primitive’ tree trunk column-courtyard

    Alan Dunlop's comment 12 March, 2019 1:26 pm

    You're joking of course, that's really quite an extraordinary project. Congratulations Moxon, I'll look forward to visiting

  • ‘Wonky’ home cinema court case ‘warning to all architects’

    Alan Dunlop's comment 7 March, 2019 4:05 pm

    Going by the images presented above, if that's all there is, the client, wealthy or not, had a justifiable case.

  • ‘Wonky’ home cinema court case ‘warning to all architects’

    Alan Dunlop's comment 6 March, 2019 11:53 am

    Mmmm...CGI can make anything look possible. Even a translucent glass box suspended without any visible means of support or fixings.

    "the computer, which we all use, at some levels it is a tool, but it is not a design instrument." Glenn Murcutt

  • Scottish laird bids to resurrect Cardross seminary rescue plan

    Alan Dunlop's comment 19 February, 2019 10:19 am

    There will be a proper business case made. It is not a proposal for a community centre, nor some kind of arts school.

  • Scottish laird bids to resurrect Cardross seminary rescue plan

    Alan Dunlop's comment 18 February, 2019 1:34 pm

    It would work Judith, I agree. From albatross, to dove to phoenix, very clever........ if you don't mind I'll use that in future.

  • Scottish laird bids to resurrect Cardross seminary rescue plan

    Alan Dunlop's comment 18 February, 2019 11:45 am

    Indeed Robert, it's secluded but not remote and certainly not inaccessible.

  • Scottish laird bids to resurrect Cardross seminary rescue plan

    Alan Dunlop's comment 18 February, 2019 10:22 am

    John Bute's intervention and his ambition to make the abandoned St Peter's Seminary a community building and a learning and manufacturing resource, to help stimulate economic and social regeneration in Argyll and Bute deserves support .

    According to Design Week the design industry contributes £4.3b each year to the Scottish economy. Scottish and international artists, architects, industrial designers, graphic, textile and fashion designers, car and furniture designers could come together in Taigh Togail, in studios and residences to produce work of outstanding quality, bringing jobs, creating apprenticeships, working with manufacturers to make those works in a single place that has international acclaim in a stimulating and creative environment for the economic and cultural benefit of the people of Argyll and Bute and Scotland.

    The building is made for it, with its extraordinary plan, genius structure and abundance of natural light. It would be an asset. St. Peters would and should be inclusive, creating work and opportunity for all. A dove carrying an olive branch, not an albatross

    The Bauhaus "aimed to reunite fine art and functional design to create practical objects with the soul of artworks". Taigh Togail would do the same.

  • Austin-Smith: Lord and MVRDV outline waterfront Glasgow scheme

    Alan Dunlop's comment 15 February, 2019 4:45 pm

    "tough character of the past, and hopefully this won't all be lost." Indeed.

    In all my years going down to the river I've never seen the Clyde so blue, and inviting, it's like the Med. Is that a tree growing in the centre too? very clever. On the water, those high rig yachts with their de-mountable masts to get under the Clyde Arc and speedboats are all lovely. And look, the existing barriers that could hold back a herd of rampaging elephants and stop emergency vehicles and the occasional drunk slipping into the river have gone, replaced by a light balustrade. Love it

    Well done ASL It says "Glasgow, eh..... wha's like us?" all right you've captured everything that makes the Clyde and the city's maritime history important and unique in one single image.

    Good luck with it.

  • Record number of women apply for architecture-related degrees

    Alan Dunlop's comment 9 February, 2019 10:12 am

    in my own MArch units, young women have often been the most talented and creative students.

    Why many women are not running major practices or making a more significant contribution to the profession is, consequently, disturbing.

    Architecture has always been driven by an exhausting and unnecessary devotion to work. This starts at university where you are given credit for the amount of time you are prepared to put in above all else. In practice, this culture continues and it is expected that you work long hours, much of which are unpaid.

    It may be that young women have other priorities and there is a woeful lack of financial support and adequate childcare provision, particularly for women who want to break this burden of expectation and have children.

    That a very low percentage of women become head of school or take up senior positions is also disturbing.

    I asked one of my students in Liverpool a very talented young woman why there seems to be a limited number of women leading practices and universities, she wrote this:

    "Architecture is 'sold' as a 7 year course and aged 18, this is long but maybe not too long to deter us, thinking it will all be done age 25. Then we get into the course, which has its own issues with a culture of long hours and mentally draining, and realise we most probably will not be fully qualified Architects anytime soon.

    For my male colleagues this is maybe not so worrying, but for myself and female friends it is a worry that our career choice pushes back other considerations, notably having children. The lack of flexibility in the structure of qualifying and a general lack of flexibility in practice until you are in a more senior role, compounded by the fact that many remain a Part 1 in practice for 2 years and a Part 2 in practice for around 3 means we are not qualifying until our late 20s and not reaching a place in our career to consider a family until later. Data shows women in architecture are leaving it later than the national average to have children, 32 compared to the national average of 28. I am sure wanting to be secure in your position in practice is a key factor for this later age -

    I cannot think of any cases of Part IIs having children and staying on in practice.

    A factor mentioned in the Ethel Day article cites gender discrimination. I have not experienced this myself particularly, in my Part I there were a couple characters in the office that I would say were very close to the line, generally the older male architects, but I am glad to say this was never a probably throughout university.

    Neither have I heard stories from friends at Liverpool. I would note that there is sometimes a tendency for tutors to assume female students will be more sensitive, or a joke made in a crit to that fact."

  • Lynch Architects submits revised plans for Nova Place library scheme

    Alan Dunlop's comment 25 January, 2019 10:32 am

    Congratulations Patrick, a pretty remarkable resolution for a challenging site. Very clever plan. Good luck with it.

  • AJ appoints new technical editor

    Alan Dunlop's comment 17 January, 2019 2:11 pm

    I remember that RIBAJ eye line drawing. Beautiful work

  • U+I chief: Public Private Partnerships aren’t wrong, they’re just not right enough

    Alan Dunlop's comment 9 January, 2019 12:22 pm

    Notwithstanding, of course there are serious concerns over the quality and long term durability of a significant number of projects delivered by PPP and so called not for profit contracts.

    The same apparently is true in the UK, which runs contrary to the community becoming the focus, or than PPP can ever improve social, economic, building, design or procurement standards.

    Profit and bottom line economics is the driver not community, nor social benefit.

  • U+I chief: Public Private Partnerships aren’t wrong, they’re just not right enough

    Alan Dunlop's comment 9 January, 2019 11:44 am

    PFI has been discredited, Philip Hammond said as much in October. Trouble is, how will new schools and hospitals in the UK be built without PFI/ Private Public Partnerships?

    In Scotland, The Scottish Nationalists introduced the Scottish Futures Trust SFT, ten or so years ago as a " not for profit" way to replace PFI. The performance of 45 projects delivered under SFT is yet to be audited, by Audit Scotland, however the estimated £3bn ( FOI information requests regarding build costs is always dismissed due to commercial confidentiality )it has cost to build hospitals, schools, leisure centres, police stations etc is anticipated to cost Scottish Taxpayers around £10bn over 30 years.

  • Morris + Company reveals staggered mews housing for PegasusLife

    Alan Dunlop's comment 12 December, 2018 10:15 am

    Try Specsavers?

    Very good project indeed. Well done.

  • Building study: Takero Shimazaki Architects’ north London house

    Alan Dunlop's comment 11 December, 2018 3:29 pm

    It does appear a touch " spartan" and perhaps a little lacking in comfort. But that's wabi-sabi for you, apparently.

  • Who’s won what at the AJ Architecture Awards 2018

    Alan Dunlop's comment 5 December, 2018 11:44 am

    Collective: AJ Architect of the Year. Also, Barmulloch Residents Centre Public Building of the Year. Brilliant for Collective and for Glasgow. Some good news, at last. Well done.

  • Charles Holland wins planning appeal for country house in Kent Downs

    Alan Dunlop's comment 26 November, 2018 10:32 am

    Clever plan and section, though.

  • Glasgow School of Art chief Tom Inns resigns

    Alan Dunlop's comment 5 November, 2018 11:17 am

    On the face of it and HES regulations aside it would seem a sensible thing to do, given the site compound was restricted and any site operations set up on Renfrew Street would cause additional problems accessing the Reid Building and to general traffic.

    Much like the sprinklers and use of existing duct work to carry services, these might have seemed like sensible decisions at the time, which would have to be agreed and confirmed, now in retrospect and without the apparent "rigorous" fire safety regime in place they appear like major flaws site operations.

    From the start also I have said the "insurance will pay for any rebuild" story from Muriel Gray is questionable and now seems very suspect indeed: Extract from report to CTEEA:

    " 2. There are questions about the causes of the loss and about liability and culpability answers to these are outstanding and reliant upon specialised investigation and reporting. At present, the evidence is unclear.

    Much has been made of the art school’s contention that the insurers will pay. The Guardian also reported Muriel Gray estimating that the project would take 4 to 7 years and cost around £100m, to be made up by insurance cover and a major private fundraising drive. Let
    us hope that this is so. However, at this point there is absolutely no surety, and until a full investigation as to the causes of the fire has been undertaken, it is unlikely that any insurer will make such a generous settlement. As in all insurance contracts there will be matters of liability and accountability to be established.

    My own view is that there will be an inevitable call on the public purse."

  • Building study: Kengo Kuma’s V&A Dundee

    Alan Dunlop's comment 3 November, 2018 10:12 am

    Ach Jay, really? There's a populist feeling growning now in Dundee that the 30 minutes spent in the V+A you will never get back ( The Times). I would not go that far, the 30 minutes I spent in the Scottish Gallery was interesting, but there is no need now to go back.

    As for the building, after I found the "cave like" entrance, ( the natural position of the entrance would be through the "arch" ) the other 20 minutes was spent wondering what those timber post it notes were doing stuck to the wall, then trying to find a view to the Tay from one of those curious and apparently random slot windows, then also trying to get a view to the river from a place other than the restaurant. The deck was closed, although it was a beautiful day. The view from the city, over the River Tay and across to Fife is one of the best in Scotland.

    The whole interior sucks the life out of you, Like Kahn, you feel you need a coffee as soon as you walk through the cave like "front" door, on to the ocean of black marble and then to be presented with the four storey staircase you have to walk up to get to the galleries. Luckily the whole ground floor is taken up by the cafe but the queue was too long, obviously other visitors felt the same.

    Dundee's living room, aye, that'll be right. I left wondering whether it would be worthwhile taking the 10 hour boat trip to Noup Head in Orkney to see the sea cliffs, that inspired the architect, and the sand stone strata, beloved of seabirds, mimicked here in the building. Then thought better of it.

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